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Hokies, Jackets meet in critical early ACC matchup

BLACKSBURG, Va. - Just two games into the season, Virginia Tech has tumbled from the top 25 and caused panic among its fans because of an offense that is sputtering behind a struggling offensive line.

No wonder the phrase 'sense of urgency' was being tossed about a lot in Blacksburg this week as the Hokies prepare to host Georgia Tech in an Atlantic Coast Conference opener that could answer a lot of questions.

'First ACC game of the year. I think it's going to tell us where our season's going,' inside linebacker Purnell Sturdivant said this week. 'I think this game right here will definitely define our season.'

The Yellow Jackets (2-0, 1-0 ACC) are coming off a 19-16 victory at Boston College and have been an unusual opponent for the Hokies in recent years. Virginia Tech rolled 27-3 last season at Georgia Tech, but the Ramblin' Wreck came to Lane Stadium two years ago and won, 38-27.

New coach Paul Johnson said after watching the Hokies on tape that the idea they are not as strong as in recent years seems far-fetched.

'They probably have as good of speed as anyone we will play defensively. They can all really run,' he said. 'If you go back and look at their last two games, they haven't really given up a lot defensively.'

East Carolina scored one touchdown on a punt return and another on a 1-yard drive after an interception in its 27-22 victory against the Hokies, he noted. Last week, Furman had only 36 total yards at halftime, a game that still fed the panic because Tech led just 3-0 in the third quarter before scoring three touchdown in a span of about 3 minutes.

'They came out with an attitude on defense last week in the first half and it showed what they are capable of,' Johnson said.

The Yellow Jackets put on an impressive display of their own in Boston, rallying from a turnover-filled first half for the victory.

SideBar:

Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech

· When: Today, 3:30 p.m.

· Where: Blacksburg, Va.

· TV/Radio: ABC/790-AM